Storms send TV anchors scrambling off set in N Carolina

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Debris litters weather-damaged properties at the intersection of County Road 24 and 37 in Clanton, Ala., the morning following a large outbreak of severe storms across the southeast, Thursday, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Storms that left splintered homes and broken trees across Alabama and Mississippi moved east Thursday, forcing a TV newscast out of their studio for a few minutes, but largely sparing the Atlantic Coast states any significant damage.

There were scary moments. In High Point, North Carolina, WGHP-TV meteorologist Van Denton ordered everyone off the se t during the 5 p.m. broadcast and into a makeup room for a few minutes after a storm with a tornado warning moved right over the station.

“I’ve never heard the roof rattle like that. We've never had to leave the studio during a broadcast," said anchor Neill McNeill, who has been with the station 37 years.

But no serious damage or injuries were immediately reported in North Carolina from the storms near High Point and Charlotte, which both had tornado warnings.

In southwest Alabama, at least two people were hurt Wednesday, when a tornado destroyed a house. Pieces of homes and twisted metal laid amid broken trees in the hardest-hit areas, but no one died and the region appeared to escape the kind of horrific toll many feared after ominous predictions of monster twisters and huge hail.

“Overall, we have a lot to be grateful for, as it could have been much worse,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

Forecasters issued a string of tornado warnings Thursday morning around the region where Alabama, Georgia and Florida intersect, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.

Forecasters worried the storms would intensify as they move into South Carolina and North Carolina on Thursday afternoon, but they mostly stayed below severe limits.